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Chicagoetry: Elegy For A Sign Painter

Elegy for a Sign Painter

Loss: I think we
may have lost

our last brick wall
sign painter. I admire

the hell
out of this guy.

We venerate
recovered hand-painted antique adverts

originally painted in oils
(I believe - acrylics?),

ads for laundry soap,
ladies hats

and exterminators,
but I fear

we've lost the last
contemporary artist

in this idiom.
My own small productions

are so much more ethereal
and light, less tactile,

less solid, less boldly

and I envy
the skills

to bring a cold, glistening
bottle of Stella Artois

to luscious life
a hundred feet tall

on a brick and mortar
factory tower.

Thick, dense, vibrant -
hey: vibrating! -

color, a mastery
of scale.

Between Kostner
and Cicero, along the Ike,

stands the last great canvas
I know of,

which I pass regularly
on the Blue Line,

and which I anticipate
with relish

(particularly on the way HOME
from work)

especially as the adverts

It's something about
the ability to systematically

and reliably
conjure something huge,

hard and tactile,
pure but convincing

illusion, that excites
my envy and admiration.

Thick, bright primary
colors, impervious

to climate
or even graffiti,

a thunderhead
of unadulterated

commerce. Dude's
got skills,

working perhaps
a square foot a day,

the way Warrenville native
Ivan Albright worked

a square inch a day,
spending two years

on a single canvas
for one haunting grotesque,

many of which are now stashed
in the vaults

of the Art Institute.
Last week

it appeared to me
that the new images

on the tower,
just west

of Garden City Laundry,
were pre-fabricated,

like any old

or cereal box.

it really
bummed me out.

Some genius
is out of a job

again, the mind
and hands of a true artist,

a fine muralist,
taking to the keyboard

to apply for unemployment
benefits online,

wiping off
the kitchen counter,

the litter box,

taking out
the garbage,

starting in
on the beer

a little earlier
each day,

if his wife

is really
at yoga.


J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.


More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance


Posted on May 30, 2013

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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